Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The local shopping challenge: Success!

Remember how, three weeks ago, I set myself a challenge to put together one entire new outfit entirely from items purchased (or otherwise acquired) through the very limited shopping channels here in Highland Park? And remember how, just one week ago, I was lamenting that I was having no success at all? At that time, I'd already checked every store in town I could think of that sold any clothing at all, and I'd come up completely empty. I even went so far as to venture into a local salon that had an outfit on display in its window, just on the chance that they also sold clothes there, and I discovered that they did indeed sell a small selection of what turned out to be very expensive, rather outré clothing (think vinyl pants and lamé bustiers). Since I had specified that the outfit had to be something I could actually wear, however, and since everything in the store was way over my budget anyway, it didn't do me any good, except to satisfy my curiosity. I was beginning to fear that I'd have to declare my local shopping challenge a failure—or else cheat by buying myself a big T-shirt from the dollar store and a pair of leggings from the drugstore, and saying that my new outfit was pajamas.

Oh, me of little faith.

What I hadn't realized was that, although I had already checked the local thrift shop several times, what was on the racks at the time was their winter inventory, which had already been thoroughly picked over. I'd already checked it out myself several times throughout the winter, before I even gave myself this challenge, and nothing new of interest had magically materialized on the racks since then. But that was because they'd stopped adding new winter clothes to the rack; they'd even held a bag sale to get rid of as much of it as possible and start making space for spring. When they reopened on the Thursday after Easter, I found myself facing a completely fresh set of clothes, items I hadn't already seen and rejected. In under half an hour, I filled up my bag with five items: a fascinating sort of batik-patterned handkerchief skirt; a nice silk-blend cardigan in a bright pink that matched the skirt; and three tops in white and black that I thought might serve to round out the outfit. The whole bagful cost me a mere three bucks. Cha-ching!

Unfortunately, the lack of dressing rooms meant that I couldn't really try any of these items on properly. Two of the shirts turned out, when I got them home, to be too big, and the third one didn't really work with the skirt. Fortunately, I'd already come up with a plan for this contingency. The local Rite Aid has a small selection of summer clothing in stock, including camisole-type tops in solid colors, so I just picked out a grey one that worked reasonably well with the grey in the skirt and wouldn't clash with the pink in the cardigan. And, since I'd specified that the entire outfit, including accessories, had to be new and locally purchased, I even treated myself to a new pair of simple teardrop earrings to round it out. Fourteen dollars and sixty-seven cents for both.

Unfortunately, no sooner had I succeeded in putting together this nice, summery outfit than the weather turned chilly and wet, so I haven't had a chance to wear it out in public yet. But I will certainly make a point of doing so once the weather warms up again, just to celebrate my feat of local shopping. A whole new outfit—a nice new outfit—in a town with no real shopping options for the fortysomething crowd, and all for just under seventeen dollars. Plus, since they're all separates, all the items can be worn with other items in my closet as well, giving me even more new outfits.

I'm so pleased with the results of my local shopping challenge, in fact, that I plan to set myself more of them in future, just as soon as I can come up with some appropriate themes for them. Clothing was an easy one, since it's something I can always use (my closet is far from overloaded with useful items). But thinking of other suitable challenges will be more difficult, since I don't want to go buying stuff I don't actually have any use for just for the sake of buying it locally. So what are some more items that I could always use more of, even if I don't absolutely need them? Books? Board games? Any suggestions?
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